Before we delve into the details of the entire process of making a hand sanitizer with aloe vera, here’s why using a hand sanitizer can be very beneficial and handy for you.
Benefits of Hand Sanitizer
Unless you have visible organic matter on your hands, such as dirt, grease, or food, etc., using a sanitizer can give you various benefits.
- It requires less time than washing your hands. You just have to put a few drops on your hands and rub them thoroughly.
- Most hand sanitizers are less irritating to the skin than soap and water.
- You can sanitize your hands at any time or place, which makes a hand sanitizer far more accessible than say, a sink for washing your hands.
- With its high alcohol content, a hand sanitizer can quickly kill microorganisms residing on your skin, reducing bacterial counts on your hands.
- It also does not promote antimicrobial resistance.
With the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and how it initially made the stock of hand sanitizers go short in supply worldwide, many of us turned to a DIY hand sanitizer or, at the very least, considered making one. Not only do you have control over the exact ingredients that go into it but you can also reduce plastic waste by storing your homemade sanitizer in a reusable bottle at home.
However, if you’re making a DIY hand sanitizer at home, you will need to be very meticulous with your work.
- Be extremely precise with the measurement of different hand sanitizer ingredients. Hand sanitizers should ideally be 60% alcohol to be truly effective so ensure that you measure out correct proportions of each ingredient.
- Clean the utensils and bottles very well before using them; otherwise, they can contaminate the ingredients and lower the efficacy of your DIY hand sanitizer.
Provided you have correctly followed a legit recipe, a homemade sanitizer is effective at killing bacteria and germs on your hands.
Benefits of Aloe Vera Gel / Plant
With so many different and effective recipes out there, why should you choose a homemade hand sanitizer recipe primarily based on the aloe vera plant? Aloe vera is a medicinal plant that has been a very popular choice of ingredient in skincare products (cleansers, toners, creams, moisturizers) today and has been used for thousands of years as a natural remedy for skin-related problems. In fact, NCBI reports that aloe vera has an estimated annual market value of $13 billion globally!
- The slimy tissue containing water in the aloe vera leaf (referred to as the Aloe Vera gel) has healthful bioactive compounds such as various amino acids, antioxidants, minerals, and vitamins.
- Aloe vera can accelerate wound recovery and is used extensively worldwide to treat sores and burns. It is rubbed onto the skin as topical medication and can help with itching, redness, and infections of the skin. This is because it has soothing, cooling, and moisturizing properties.
- Aloe vera is also highly valued in the pharmaceutical industry due to its antiseptic, antibacterial, and antimicrobial properties.
- Since multiple studies have shown promise that aloe vera can improve skin and prevent wrinkles, it has been increasingly used for the treatment of acne, eczema, and psoriasis.
- Aloe vera is even said to improve the condition of the skin and particularly helps with softening the skin. This is why it is often used in moisturizers and lotions, etc.
With so many helpful properties, a hand sanitizer made from aloe vera will not only keep your hands germ-free but also offer multiple other skincare benefits including moisturized skin. Most importantly, since alcohol has harsh drying effects, aloe vera balances them out by providing nourishment and moisture to the skin.
Also, aloe vera is generally safe for external use. However, if you have any underlying health conditions or are on medication, it is recommended to consult your doctor before using aloe vera since it might react with other medications.
Homemade Hand Sanitizer Recipe
Ingredients and Supplies Required
Make sure you have the following in the stated measurements before you begin making your hand sanitizer.
This is also known as “isopropyl alcohol”. You can use 91 to 99% rubbing alcohol. You can also use 70% rubbing alcohol. The required alcohol content in the hand sanitizer is usually above 60%. Keep in mind that the higher the alcohol content, the less aloe vera gel you can add.
Aloe Vera Gel
Aloe vera gel will thicken the hand sanitizer so that you can apply it more easily and reduce any spillage. More importantly, this increases the contact time that the alcohol has on your skin, raising the effectiveness of the sanitizer. It is recommended to use fresh aloe vera gel extracted from a plant, although you can buy it from a store as well.
Essential oils are optional since they only add fragrance to the hand sanitizer and do not affect its efficacy. That being said, there are many essential oils that possess antimicrobial and antibacterial properties. A few choices of essential oils that offer wonderful aromas include rosemary, cinnamon, lavender, citrus, tea tree, oregano, and eucalyptus.
A small spray or squeeze bottle is required to store the hand sanitizer and easily apply it. If you’ve made the sanitizer in a large volume, you can use an airtight storage container or a glass mason jar to store it for refilling.
Extracting Aloe Vera Gel
You do not need the entire plant or even one full aloe vera leaf for the sanitizer. All that’s required is the inner gel of the leaf, separated from the fibrous outer skin. It’s an easy process but one that needs to be done carefully.
- Before harvesting, make sure your plant is mature by checking the height of the leaves (they should be about 8 inches). The outermost leaves are the oldest and thus, the richest because the aloe vera plant grows from the center outward.
- Cut off one or two of the aloe vera leaves since you wouldn’t be requiring the entire plant. Use a sharp knife to reduce any damage the cutting might inflict on it.
- Thoroughly wash the aloe vera leaf. As soon as you cut it, a yellow substance will start oozing out of the leaf. You may store it since it is aloe latex and a useful substance. However, keep pouring water on the leaf until it is completely free of this material since it might contaminate the aloe vera gel which you’ll extract later.
- Cut off the top third of the leaves. This portion is very thin and stores almost no gel so there is no point keeping it. Repeat the previous step as more aloe latex might ooze out.
- Use a sharp knife to remove the hard, spine edges on either side of the leaf. Cut very close to the spines to avoid wasting any gel.
- Lay the leaf flat on a cutting board and remove the top and bottom layers.
- Now you’ll have slabs of clear, green aloe vera gel. Wash it a few times to get rid of any remaining latex or leaf parts and store it in a container.
Steps to make Hand Sanitizer with Aloe Vera
Given below are two different recipes for making hand sanitizer with aloe vera gel: using 91% to 99% rubbing alcohol and using 70% rubbing alcohol. For both of these recipes, you need to properly mix the state measurements of the ingredients. Vigorously whisk them together in a bowl or use a blender, especially if you’re using fresh aloe vera gel. Once done, you can add a few drops of essential oils as per your preference.
91% to 99% Rubbing Alcohol
The alcohol to aloe vera gel ratio is 2:1 in this recipe. For instance, if you can take 2 cups of 99% isopropyl, add 1 cup of aloe vera gel to it.
70% Rubbing Alcohol
The alcohol to aloe vera gel ratio is 9:1 in this recipe. For example, if you’re taking 5 cups of alcohol, add 1/2 cup of aloe vera gel to it. Make sure the aloe vera gel is not more than 10%.
Note: Do not over-dilute the alcohol by adding more aloe vera gel than the state measurements. Otherwise, the alcohol content will fall below 60% and not be very effective at killing germs and bacteria.
Bottling and Storing the Hand Sanitizer
Once the alcohol and aloe vera gel are thoroughly mixed or blended, transfer them to a spray or squeeze bottle. If you used 91% to 99% rubbing alcohol, the sanitizer will be thicker and should be stored in a squeeze bottle. For the 70% rubbing alcohol sanitizer, the consistency will be much thinner and water-like so a spray bottle will work better. Store the extra sanitizer, if any, in a glass mason jar. This can be stored in a refrigerator or simply in a cool and dark place. Do not worry about the hand sanitizer spoiling because the alcohol preserves it, though the aloe vera might turn slightly pink over time.
How to Use Homemade Hand Sanitizer with Aloe Vera?
Like any other hand sanitizer, shake the bottle well before use and then squeeze or spray a generous amount into the palm of your hand. Rub your hands together very well until they feel wet. Make sure to get the sanitizer on all parts of your hands, especially the fingertips, under the nails, back of your hand, and between your fingers. Do not wave your hands about to dry the sanitizer or spread around the aroma because the longer the sanitizer makes contact with your skin, the more effective it will be. That being said, sanitizers can have a drying effect on the skin so follow up by applying some lotion or moisturizer onto your hands.
How to Care for an Aloe Vera Plant?
Although you can find aloe vera leaves or plants at floral shops, garden centers, and websites online, for a number of reasons, you might want to grow it at home. If that’s the case for you, you’re in luck because aloe vera plants are quite easy to grow at home.
Make sure that your plant has sufficient sunlight as the aloe vera plant requires about 6 to 8 hours of sunlight daily. The younger the plant, the more direct sunlight it requires. Even though you can grow your plant indoors during colder months, aloe vera is usually grown in warmer climates and months.
You’ll need to water the plant when the soil is dry for nearly two inches below the surface. The amount of times you need to water the plant depends upon the climate where it is being grown. Generally speaking, you’ll need to water your plant once a week, or even less. However, make sure that you don’t overwater the plant since that can cause the edges of the aloe vera leaf to turn brown.
Lastly, if you’re growing the plant in a pot, leave holes in it for excess water to run out.
Frequently Asked Questions
How much alcohol should I add to my hand sanitizer?
Although this depends on the exact recipe you are following, hand sanitizers tend to be effective if they have at least 60% alcohol in them.
Is a hand sanitizer made with aloe vera safe for use?
Yes, the topical or external use of Aloe Vera is completely safe. However, only use this hand sanitizer on your hands, and under no circumstances, should aloe vera be consumed orally.
Is aloe vera safe for use on the skin?
For minor burns, irritation, or other skincare concerns, aloe vera is safe for use as topical medication. However, do not use it on severe burns or badly irritated skin. Furthermore, it is possible for skin to show allergic reactions to aloe vera.
How many drops of essential oil should I add to the sanitizer?
There is no fixed amount because it depends upon your preference for the strength of fragrance.
Should I store the hand sanitizer in a squeeze or a spray bottle?
Store it in a squeeze bottle if you used 91% to 99% rubbing alcohol and pour it in a spray bottle if you used 70% rubbing alcohol.
Amelia is a plant and nature lover! Ever since she was little, she loved spending time in her family’s garden and learning about how to care for each plant individually. As an adult, she has dedicated herself to sharing what she has learned and continuing to expand her knowledge on the plant kingdom.